Improving the Relationship between the CEO and the Board in a Non-Profit Company

Situation:
The Board of Directors of a large, national non-profit organization was dissatisfied with the performance of the CEO. Two years earlier, the Board had determined that the rapid growth of the organization required a CEO who could demonstrate a new skill set that was beyond the capabilities of the then CEO. They elevated their COO to CEO and the former CEO became a Board member.

The new CEO demonstrated strong leadership in a number of areas. Not surprisingly, he was a highly effective operational leader, as well as an effective external voice for the organization. However, the Board found him to be overly timid, lacking initiative, and weak in his strategic thinking. They were concerned that he did not have the vision and forcefulness to take the organization to the next stage of its development.

Action:
Gail Golden Consulting, LLC, provided an executive coach to work with the CEO. The coach met with the Board Chair and the Chair of the CEO Evaluation Committee to gather initial information about the CEO’s performance. She then completed an interview survey with three groups of respondents: Board members, the CEO’s direct reports, and the company’s branch managers. She shared these data with the CEO and the Board Chair, and together they developed a set of development objectives for the CEO.
The coach met with the CEO once a month, with additional meetings scheduled as needed. She attended a quarterly meeting of the Board to inform them of the results of the survey, share the development objectives, and gather their responses. She also gave them guidance about how the Board could provide more valuable counsel and support for the CEO.

Outcome:
Six months after the initiation of the coaching, the coach met with the Board Chair and the Chair of the Evaluation Committee, who reported significant improvement in the CEO’s performance. He was acting as a bolder leader, offering a broader vision for where he was planning to take the company. He was more effectively tying business metrics to the company’s strategy, using the numbers to “tell the story.” The Board had much more confidence that he was the right leader for the organization, and their interaction with him had become more productive and collaborative.